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Phillies Face a Critical Point of the Season

Phillies Face a Critical Point of the Season
Before facing the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend, Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper talked about how confident he was that the Phillies would match up with a two-time National League champ.
 
Harper didn’t prove prophetic as the Phillies were swept by the Dodgers and were outscored 18-6.
 
What does it mean?
 
The Dodgers are the best team in the National League, but that was known before this series. This is a team that has been to the World Series each of the past two years and is the odds-on favorite to make it three in a row.
 
Any team can hit a slump and it’s important to be playing well in October.
 
Then again, the Phillies have to play much better than they did in the three-game series against the Dodgers to get to October.
 
And the poor play lingered Monday into San Diego where the Phillies lost 8-2 to the Padres.
 
That was the Phillies fifth consecutive loss. This type of streak is bound to happen in a 162-game schedule. Sunday’s 8-0 loss to the Dodgers was the Phillies first four-game losing streak of the season so they have been able to avoid lengthy streaks. 
 
The Phillies still appear to be the class of the National League East, but their bats have suddenly gone silent.
 
They wasted an excellent pitching effort by Nick Pivetta on Sunday, when he threw six shutouts innings before leaving for a pinch hitter. Pivetta allowed the dangerous Dodgers lineup just three hits and he struck out nine.
 
That was his second game since being recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He allowed three earned runs in five innings during a win over the St. Louis Cardinals in his first game back.
 
If Pivetta can pitch with consistently it would be a big boost for the inconsistent staff. He has electric stuff, but hasn’t been able to maintain dominance for long stretches.
 
Aaron Nola hasn’t pitched like an ace and he rest of the rotation has been inconsistent.
 
Nola has been one of the biggest disappointments after finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting last year.
 
He is 6-1, but a pitcher’s won-loss record can often be misleading. A more telling stat is Nola’s 4.63 ERA. His WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is an alarming 1.53. Last year he had a 2.37 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP.
 
The Phillies can only hope that Nola resumes his ace status.
 
An optimist would say that Phillies have shown all these warts and still are (barely) in first place.
 
That is true, but a team that had plenty of confidence before heading to the West Coast now must battle through it’s worst stretch among the first 60 games this season.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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